A petition calling upon the president to refer major fishing quota legislation to public referendum has passed 45,000 signatures.
The petition, Þjóðareign (“National Resource”), is now the sixth largest petition in Iceland’s history, Kjarninn reports. The largest – Hjartað í Vatnsmýrinni (The Heart of Vatnsmýri) – sought to keep the domestic airport in Reykjavík, and reached some 70,000 signatures.
Þjóðareign is directed at President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, imploring the following:
“We, the undersigned, call on the President of Iceland to refer to a referendum any laws that parliament adopts where fishing resources are allocated for more than one year, while no provision for public ownership of resources has been set in the Constitution and the people have not be guaranteed full charge for their use.”
At the time of this writing, 45,398 people have signed the petition, which comes in the wake of a controversial mackerel bill, that has been criticised for personally benefiting the families of those crafting the legislation. In addition, the quota established would be set for the next six years.
According to Icelandic law, once parliament passes legislation, only the president’s signature will make it a law. If the president refuses to sign it, it is referred to public referendum, unless parliament opts to simply withdraw the legislation altogether.
Ólafur Ragnar has referred legislation to referendum before – in particular, the wildly unpopular Icesave legislation, which ended up defeated in the ensuing referendum. However, in 2013, a petition of some 35,000 signatures calling on the president to refuse to sign a law that lowered taxes for fishing corporations went ignored, with the president telling reporters at the time that “tax issues should not be a matter of public referendum”.
Bear in mind, though, that the year previous, the president said that “few topics were better suited for a public referendum” than the quota system.
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